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Everything posted by ameliajc

  1. It's too simple to say that all films reflect their time. There is another factor, and that is the patterns in the way new technology is adopted. It's pretty typical that, at first, people don't quite know what the potentials and capabilities of the new technology might be, so they work with it in the way that they have worked in other mediums. A classic example is in photography. The first photographs tried to imitate oil paintings, including posing people in historical type scenarios to take the picture. Many early photographs really reflect more accurately a time that has already had its he
  2. I'm loving this discussion - thank you. I think the histories of film genres are at least loosely parallel. The Production Code would cut across many types of film, for example. Protesting against authority or focus on youth culture in the 1960s would show up in dramas, noir, romantic comedies, musicals, what have you. I think one theme for a course might be to take one of these periods and examine what's happening across several genres. A little bit harder, perhaps, for TCM programming, especially in the later decades where TCM doesn't own so many of the relevant titles.
  3. I think of a "remake" as comparable to the situation in the theater where they are constantly putting on the same plays over again -- because people want to see them again, or different major actors want to take on the role of Hamlet, or Sally Bowles. I think the current state of the media allows us to own copies of or constantly access already-made movie versions, but it didn't used to be that way. And why not see how a different person interprets the role? I like the idea of seeing a new interpretation of a production that still speaks to our time. Now, the question of whether A Star is
  4. I would like to define “musicals” as broadly as possible, but I agree that it cannot simply be a film that uses music to help tell the story. As already observed, most films have background music in some form. So I would define a musical as a film that has music sung by the characters. This does not specify how much, or whether it’s diegetic, or whether it forwards the plot or explains the characters. It would therefore include animation (and I do regret that we didn’t look more seriously at that sub-genre) and would include filmed version of operas. So, upon reflection, that seems perhaps ov
  5. Saw the in-theater screening today of West Side Story and LOVED it. The use of the wide screen, the sound (no problems in this theater), the beauty of it. The choreography is mesmerizing, the music and lyrics are works of art in themselves. Plus, I love Ben's introductions -- I think you're expecting too much of these, maybe. How could only a couple of minutes capture the entire musical, anyway. I think emphasizing Rita Morena made a lot of sense. What bothered me consistently, however, was Natalie Wood. Sure she's a good actress and pretty, but the put-on Latina accent plus the dubbing of her
  6. In previous courses they have always made sure that one or two of the featured films every week is available in some sort of public access format. I agree -- couldn't do this without the Tivo / DVR, and even then, there's not enough space to keep them all. ...let's face it, TCM is hoping we'll buy a few of our favorites from their shop. And maybe I will!
  7. There's only one DONE button per day / module, and you have to mark it yourself.
  8. My understanding is that those voice-over scenes are attempts at reconstructing the original version. It had been cut, and they lost the visual but had the audio track, so they laid in the still photos they had from elsewhere. (I know I heard that on TCM at some point.) Whenever I watch A Star is Born, I keep trying to "unsee" those additions. I agree a little bit of cutting might have been helpful to that one. Sorry about the aside, we're supposed to be talking about My Fair Lady. I appreciated this scene, in which Audrey goes through such emotional transitions, but nothing can beat In
  9. Like others, I grew up with the cast album of The Music Man, so it's that precise, mellifluous voice that comes to mind with Robert Preston. This question is interesting in making me reconsider his personality in terms of gender codes. It strikes me that Preston is a throwback to that gentler, suave, intelligent leading man we saw earlier -- the consummately trained Fred Astaire - Dick Powell type. The performance is delicate enough that it can read as gay when necessary, but yes, deliberately not "flaming". Preston is a man who also has total control of his body, as a dancer would, in precis
  10. The answer to your first question is, unfortunately, it was quite common in the past to kidnap wives. The women coming to love and marry their abductors is EXACTLY the Roman story of the Sabine women. In the end, for just the reasons given in the movie, the Sabine women end up making peace between Roman husbands and Sabine fathers. It's called Marriage Diplomacy.
  11. Thanks for this post -- agreed, this is a troubling story. But the primary trouble with this musical is that it is a "remake" of the "Rape of the Sabine Women" story, which is very much with us still. It is the founding history of Rome and deeply embedded in our marriage culture ever since. I don't teach this film, but I have examined that subject in other courses I teach, and it's really complicated and needs to be contextualized... you could spend way more time on it than Prof. Ament does. To give her credit, she does actually use the word "rape" to describe what's happening, and points out
  12. Yes, but I agree with the point that Harriet was trying to make, also. It's a bit of a problem for orchestra audiences, in fact -- how do you maintain your focus on music only, without any, or limited visuals. I don't blame the movie director for trying to enliven the long piece. I also think that the fantasy element adds to character development -- one of the sub messages of this film is that (perhaps) artists need to be arrogant and self-centered to succeed in this world. As such, that runs counter to the theme of Cooperation that is being put forth as a characteristic of the musicals, and t
  13. I haven't rewatched this film for the course yet, so I'm not sure what I think about this (Hollywood) realism vs the fantasy ballet. Good as the fantasy ballets are, I've never much liked them -- fantasy, but also more reliant upon stereotypes than characters. But watching this clip as a set-up for the Paris art scene is really insightful. The walk up the hill is a catalogue of all the art types you'll see on the streets, and requires an amazing amount of knowledge just to create the 15 second scenario. The first artist is probably the most progressive -- doing the modernist stuff; the second
  14. I appreciated the opportunity to consider the professorial straight man in this clip. Full disclosure: I am myself a professor, so I have a slight bias toward the profession. In the family, my dad was often the one who delivered the joke (okay, Dad Jokes), but he had some finesse and liked to wait until the timing was perfect. As such, he appreciated a good set-up, and I was often the one who would deliver. And he always said to me-- there's no shame in being a good straight man (or second banana); it's necessary to the act. So the Professor was really excellent at setting it up, letting himse
  15. I think films like this are important because they teach women how to be Women. Developmental psychology will attest that girls and boys as children are often treated similarly and many girls very naturally fall into what we would call a "tomboy" -- playing rough and tumble, performing equally in school and sports, etc. But those all-important gender roles kick in as they reach adolescence (Reviving Ophelia) and a few role models are essential. What works on a personal level is even more important on a cultural level -- how to get 'em back down on the farm after they've seen Paree, or, how to
  16. This ensemble performance is a great illustration of the class points about cooperation and being a natural kind of "conversation" integrated into the story line. But as has often been observed about this sort of egalitarian, democratic kind of enterprise, it's also pretty dull dancing. (I'm a huge fan of Oscar Levant also, but including him as a dancer here and in Silk Stockings is fairly ludicrous.) This is admittedly a great number -- but it's a darn catchy tune and clever lyrics that makes it, not the goofy sight gags. I think it's nice to set the bar so low that everybody can participate
  17. Upon considering this scene, I reflect on the stereotypes involved. Class has talked about this particularly in relationship to the narrow way blacks are perceived, and I admit that there only seem to be two options for women in this film: dutiful, loving and long-suffering wife vs. the manipulative sexy vamp. But honestly, these stereotypes for women seemed to fit in right along with all the other roles we've been seeing for women in these movies. In the Harvey Girls, there are only good girls vs. bad girls, and the good girls may be waitresses instead of laundresses, but the message is still
  18. I went back and watched parts of this again. The Black Mack sequence is truly worth it, and if you take it as being a romp, that goes a long way to making it pleasurable. It also makes sense as a way to get Gene and Judy in a film together. With her an established star and he a newcomer, the plot plays on that exactly. Her campy performance also foreshadows a lot of her later stage/TV career, so maybe this is more "Judy" than we care to think. Not my favorite from either one of them, but I'm placing it at a higher level than before, especially with some of the information we got today about t
  19. As someone else confessed, I didn't take this movie too seriously when it was on Tuesday -- kinda half watched it, wasn't that attracted to the plot (I hate baseball), and actually had already deleted it from the TIVO to make room for Thursday before even getting to the material for today. Now I'm going to see if I can retrieve it from the Trash to watch it again more seriously. What I'm learning from this course is that it takes a lot of skill to make a musical, and even the ones that aren't flat-out-4-stars operate at a very high level. I guess that's what makes this the golden age of the m
  20. The Wizard of Oz is definitely the first Judy Garland movie I remember seeing, but old movies were a fixture around my house, and my mother taught me to appreciate female vocalists, so I suppose those old Andy Hardy movies might have been in my early consciousness, as well. What I'm appreciating about today's material is organizing all my impressions of Judy into a coherent biography of her movie achievements. Thinking about the mature Judy takes me to her TV show and her immense popularity in the gay community as an icon of Camp, so for me, she defines that kind of big, show-tune performer.
  21. So many good answers, and very little to add. But I found myself appreciating the framing element provided by the Oval Office. This opening scene of visiting FDR and the White House does a lot of work to justify why the film is telling the story the way it is, and why the story is being told at all. It's not just the biography of a great singer-dancer, but of a Great American. It establishes that a Performer can be as important as a President. There is a dignity to the work that both men do, their family credentials, etc. -- all contributing to the American enterprise. As someone previously no
  22. During the lecture notes on Every Sunday, in which Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland square off with classical vs. popular music, I couldn't help but thinking of the Ella Fitzgerald standard "Mr. Paganini (You'll have to swing it). Same theme -- we've heard your great classic music, but if you really want to make good music, it'll have to be swing style. Same year 1936. I'd like to know more about the relationship between those two musical numbers, if any. In my family, in which all types of music are studied and appreciated, we especially liked Ella's ongoing championing of the virtues - rigors
  23. Good point -- parallel to standards about women's looks, weight, etc. There's a lot narrower range about what's acceptable for women than for men, and it doesn't surprise me that men are allowed more variation on what's romantic and appropriate. I wasn't really laughing at the ending of "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me" at the end of 42nd Street, when the woman walked off with the nerdy guy. It just doesn't happen the other way around!
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